Book Review: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place
Nora Roberts
9781250161598, St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, Pub. Date: May 29, 2018

Publisher’s Description: Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tending to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

WildlyRead Shelftalker: Nora Roberts has done it again, in a book sadly more relevant than ever. While the story could have been ripped from the headlines, the subject of senseless public shootings was treated with tenderness and sensitivity, humanizing both the victims and the shooters. A sweeping piece of fiction that combined elements of mystery, thriller, and romance, this novel was also vintage Nora, including snippets of gardening, a dog, deep friendships, gentle humor, love, instantly recognizeable and sympathetic secondary characters, and a touch of magic.

WildlyRead Thoughts: I’ve been an NR fan since I was about 15 years old. That doesn’t mean I unequivocably love everything she’s ever written. In fact, when I first picked this up, I was hoping for a lighter, more magical read (why I thought that when the cover is the very definition of foreshadowing, I don’t know), but I quickly came around to the fact that though I was going to cry through some of this, it was most definitely worth the read.

What I found most compelling was how she made me feel for both the victims and the one who organized the shooting (no spoilers). Truly a villianous character (the orchestrator), but the way the person manipulated others into doing things was a real eye-opener. As I was reading this book, tragedy struck our country with another school shooting, and I had such trouble separating the two. I cried at several points for all the victims – real and fictional – and for our world in general.

Also, the breadth and depth of NR’s knowledge of a range of subjects is astounding, as the details – about the art-making process, casting in bronze – don’t feel like a forced information dump. Even the small details about police work are written in a way that doesn’t make the novel seem like a police procedural.

She’s at the top of her game and shows no signs of slowing down. I have immense respect for her and her work, and already am looking forward to the next NR novel.

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